Hockey’s Future announces updated prospect criteria

By Ken McKenna

Not satisfied with simply overhauling the player ratings system at Hockey’s Future, we’re also addressing the criteria used in determining a player’s status as a prospect. There has been a bit of confusion with the prospect criteria that has been used at Hockey’s Future over the years. The new criteria will hopefully be both more intuitive and clear.

With the credo of “less is more” in mind, the new criteria have been pared down to just three main guidelines for determining a prospect’s status. Going forward, a player will be considered a prospect until he meets the following criteria:

1.If a prospect is a skater (forward, defenseman) and has played in 65 NHL games or more before the completion of the season of his 24th birthday; or, if a goaltender has played in 45 NHL games before the completion of the season of his 24th birthday, that player will be considered graduated to the NHL. Conversely, if a player completes the season of his 24th birthday without passing those milestones, then that player will no longer be considered a prospect by Hockey’s Future, regardless of the player’s status with his NHL club.

2.An NCAA player who signs his first contract at or above the age of 22 has three years to meet the above criteria (65/45), while those NCAA players that turn pro under the age of 22 will be subjected to the criteria above.

3.European players who sign their first NHL contract at or above the age of 22 have three seasons from the time they sign that contract to meet the above criteria. Those European players below the age of 22 that have signed a NHL contract will be subjected to the criteria in section one.

Section one is the meat of the criteria, of course, as it will govern the majority of players that vie for a NHL roster spot. Sections two and three are simply an acknowledgement that some prospects arrive on the scene a bit later than their peers, thus needing some time past their 24th birthday to develop into an NHL-caliber player.

This change to the prospect criteria to 65/45 NHL games will mean that some players that were graduated from prospect status during the 2003-04 season will return to that status to start the 2004-05 season. This will not affect a large number of players, though, so you aren’t likely to notice much of a change to your favorite team’s prospect list. Some of these players have already been included in the new Top 20 rankings.

As is the case with the player ratings upgrade, this change to the prospect criteria is meant to make our approach to hockey prospect coverage more clear, which hopefully will make the experience here at Hockey’s Future a bit more enjoyable for our readers.

Ken McKenna
Managing Editor, Hockey’s Future